Paul L. Caron

Monday, February 29, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1026

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, Justice and Clinton’s Email Probe: A ‘Career’ Official Doesn’t Guarantee an Honest Investigation:

Attorney General Loretta Lynch this week tried to assure House Republicans about the impartiality of her department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails by noting that it would be handled by career government officials. ...

That’s what they always say, and it is nice to think so. But there’s reason to doubt given the example of Justice’s investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups before the 2012 election. To lead that probe, then Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney in the department’s Civil Rights Division.

Ms. Bosserman’s appointment was curious given that her area of expertise is civil rights, not tax law. She had also donated $6,100 to President Obama’s campaigns and the Obama Victory Fund in 2008 and 2012. That’s no small donation on a career employee’s salary and suggests some serious political loyalty.

Ms. Bosserman’s conflict of interest came to light only after Justice stonewalled congressional requests for information about the status of the IRS probe. The House Oversight Committee then began investigating Justice’s investigation. In September 2014 we wrote about the involvement of former department spokesman Brian Fallon, now a press secretary for the Clinton presidential campaign.

The House also discovered that Justice had assigned former IRS tax attorney Andrew Strelka to the case brought against the agency by Z Street, a pro-Israel group that claimed its tax-exempt status had been delayed because of its political leanings. Mr. Strelka had previously served as a presidential management fellow working in the IRS tax-exempt office managed by Lois Lerner, who by the way was also a career government official with clear anti-Republican political leanings. Mr. Strelka was removed from the case before being deposed as a witness.

Justice closed its investigation of the IRS last October with no criminal charges.

We’ll hope for the best from Ms. Lynch’s career prosecutors, and especially from the FBI. But whoever handles the case, at either the State or Justice Department, will presumably create a paper trail of evidence and legal analysis. If a Republican wins the presidential election, his appointees will be able to look at the files and judge the evidence independently.

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But at what cost?

Posted by: CheeseAndCrackers | Feb 29, 2016 2:24:11 PM

This would appear to be basic Legal Ethics 101. Avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Might we not expect better from the DOJ and IRS?

Posted by: ruralcounsel | Feb 29, 2016 9:40:15 AM